Tag Archives: SYRIZA

Comment in Press TV News in Brief program on the conclusion of the 2nd review of the Greek Adjustment Program and its inability to solve the Greek crisis

The video of my comment in Press TV’s News in Brief program on the conclusion of the 2nd review of the Greek Adjustment Program and its inability to solve the Greek crisis.

The transcript of the comment is the following:

 

Comment in Press TV News in Brief program on the conclusion of the 2nd review of the Greek Adjustment Program and its inability to solve the Greek crisis

2-5-2017

 

The technical agreement (SLA) between the troika of Greece’s lenders (IMF-EU-ECB) – because a political agreement has to follow as well – is a sham. The whole bunch of declarations by the the IMF and the EU and the SYRIZA government are pretentious and not telling the truth. The Greek economy is in shambles. It is in a terrible condition with recession reigning for the seventh consecutive year. The Adjustment Program imposed upon the country by the EU and the IMF has aggravated this situation. Each review of this program and the additional austerity measures that are being taken within this program in order to bring it back in its own tracks aggravate further the recession of the Greek economy and the poverty of the great majority of the Greek people. In these conditions a dirty game is being played between the major partners of these agreements. The EU wants to impose these agreements upon Greece but it requires the tacit agreement of the IMF (that is by the US). The US, on the other hand, fear that they throw a lot of money in the desperate Greek case and also the new Trump administration has taken a more tough line towards the EU. This was the reason for which the negotiations for this second review took too long. That is the IMF created problems. The junior partner of this deal, that is the Greek government of SYRIZA, has capitulated completely. It gives whatever the foreign lenders require so long as the new austerity measures required are not to be applied during this and the next year. But to be applied by 2019, that is after the expiration of the SYRIZA government. This means that the new government would bear the costs and the burden of the new austerity measures. In total the new agreement does not solve the Greek crisis but it aggravates it as it puts another 3.5 to 4 bn euros austerity cuts upon a very weak economy. So, the problems lay ahead.

 

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SYRIZA’s fake tug-of-war with the IMF on labour reforms

Following is the transcript of my intervention in today’s News in Press TV (that was marred by connection problems):

 

PRESS TV NEWS item:

Greece says it cannot comply with labor reforms demanded by the IMF as a condition for a third bailout.

Greek Labor Minister George Katrougalos said his government considers the IMF’s demand as a ban on the right of workers to negotiate wages and conditions on a collective basis. Katrougalos noted that a breakdown with the IMF on the issue could jeopardize its financing of the 96-billion dollar bailout and could undermine overall confidence in the deal. The labor Minister said however that Greece can no longer tolerate the deterioration of its workers’ state. Talks are set to be held on Wednesday between Greece and an EU-IMF mission over the country’s bailout future.

 

14-sep-16-8-09-31-pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

My comment:

This whole affair is a masquerade. It is a cheat game between IMF, EU and the SYRIZA government. The sad thing is that Greece and its people are paying the cost of this masquerade.

Let us decipher this cheat game.

The IMF, which primarily expresses the geopolitical and economic interests of the US, pressurizes

  • the EU for a new Greek debt haircut. This is vehemently rejected by the EU (and Germany in particular)
  • Greece for even more austerity and anti-popular reforms. Part of this new package is the more barbaric deregulation of labour relations (whose previous waves of deregulation have contributed to a dramatic increase in unemployment and an equally dramatic decrease in wages).

The IMF blackmails the other two that, unless its conditions are being met, it won’t participate in the third bailout and austerity programme for Greece that the SYRIZA government signed.

The EU wants a strict implementation of the austerity programme without a debt haircut. It considers only the case of an insubstantial debt reprofilling and that after the forthcoming German elections. It does not object in principle to more barbaric labour relations deregulation. But, on the other hand, it is more sensitive than the IMF to the possible disastrous political repercussions of such a move. Especially, it worries that such a bold move might rekindle social resistance – that is dormant after SYRIZA’s betrayal of the anti-austerity movement – and lead to uncontrolled political changes.

Finally, the terribly incompetent and untrustworthy SYRIZA government is the underdog in this cheat game. It simply tries to save its skin and cling as long as possible in power (given its already very low popularity). It might accept another wave of labour relations deregulation if it goes together with even an insubstantial debt reprofilling (that they think that they can ‘sell’ to the Greek public). Their problem is that they have no real power (either economic or in the form of popular support) to press their own objectives. So they are simply trying to find room to play between the positions of the two other big players. On top of that the SYRIZA government and particularly its Minister of Labour are habitual liars. A recent example of this is their public declarations that pensions will not be cut at the very same time that they literally ‘massacre’ them. So the minister’s supposedly intransigent declaration against the IMF’s demands does not hold much water.


Published in COUNTERPUNCH

Cheat Game: SYRIZA’s Fake Tug-of-War With the IMF on Labor Reforms

 

Cheat Game: SYRIZA’s Fake Tug-of-War With the IMF on Labor Reforms

S.Mavroudeas: Intervention in TV PRESS News 25th May 2016 on the bailout deal for Greee

A short comment TV PRESS News 25th May 2016 on the bailout deal for Greee

 

The new late night deal in the Eurogroup on the new bailout for Greece is another blatant hypocricy by the dominant European Union powers, their partner-cum-competitor IMF (aka the US) and the Greek establishment (now represented by the SYRIZA government).

The new deal is an uneasy compromise subject to a continuing tug-of-war between the US (through its proxy, the IMF) and the EU.

Together, the EU and the US obliged the now crumbling (because of people’s anger) SYRIZA government to capitulate to the troika austerity policies as encapsulated in the now three Economic Adjustment Programmes for Greece. These programmes aggravated the depression of the Greek economy, caused a rampant immiserisation of the Greek people and expanded the control of Western capitals on the Greek economy. In this game the US played a second role – not so much behind the curtain – by directing the incompetent and opportunistic SYRIZA government in its clumsy negotiations with the EU. In fact, the US on the one hand used Greece to weaken the EU (for its own purposes and geopolitical interests) and on the other hand backed the EU in order to impose austerity and foreign control on the Greek economy.

Once EU’s and US’ common aim of imposing austerity and anti-popular economic restructuring on Greece has been concluded, then the two partners-um-competitors jostled the one against the other for the terms and the consequences of the necessary debt relief for Greece. Debt relief is necessary because the troika’s Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece is unfeasible and Greek debt is unviable. A few days ago, IMF in its recent preliminary debt sustainability assessment had accepted this.

On the issue of debt relief US and EU hold opposite positions and have conflicting interests. US wants a deep debt haircut because this (a) helps its economy (by deleveraging the world economy on the back of the EU as a new debt haircut would affect mainly the official and inter-state loans of the EU to Greece) and (b) generally weakens EU’s challenge to US global hegemony. On the other side, the EU (and particularly its main hegemone, Germany) abhores a debt haircut and is only willing to concede a debt reprofilling (that is an extention of the maturity of Greek loans and, possibly, a lowering of the interest) that would make debt servicing (but not debt) viable.

In this tug-of-war between the US (through its proxy, the IMF) and the EU the first threatened with leaving the Greek Economic Adjustment Programme and thus obliging Germany to tackle the Greek problem alone. To avoid this Germany and the euro-core offered a typically myopic compromise: a roadmap for a roadmap to a possible debt reprofilling. In plain language, they offered some vague ideas about a methodology (comprised of short-term, mid-term and long-term measures) for postponing the problem (‘kicking the can’) if the Greek Economic Adjustment Programme continues to fail. In the end, the US and the EU agreed on this uneasy and shaky compromise because neither side wanted to push things to the extreme; at least at this point of time with open broader geopolitical problems, the mutual abhorred possibility of Brexit in sight etc.

The opportunistic and incompetent SYRIZA government is a passive spectator in this tug-of-war. It betrayed its anti-austerity declarations and capitulated unconditionally to the troika. A few days ago it legislated a new wave of barbaric austerity measures and of unbashful sell-off of Greek state assets to foreign interests. Its popularity its crumbling rapidly and SYRIZA’s only aim is to cling to government.

The results of this new Greek bailout deal would be equally dismal with those of its predecessors. The new austerity measures would deepen further recession. New measures will be required and the incompetent and subservient SYRIZA government has already agreed and legislated an automatic mechanism (called the ‘cutter’) that, if the programme fails in its milestones, will instigate cuts in public expenditure (and mainly in wages and pensions). If this ‘cutter’ mechanism fails then the debt reprofilling mechanism might come into force. Notwithstanding, it should be pointed out that this reprofilling mechanism is at the moment only some vague ideas that would be discusses in 2017. The accentuation of the Greek depression will increase popular anger and frustration. The EU, the SYRIZA government and the Greek politico-economic establishment (as the oppostition, despite its opportunistic whining in parliament, is a standard-bearer of the Economic Adjustment Programme) will face this burgeoning anger and pay the consequences.

 

Re-blogged in:

 

2016-05-27_10-09-26

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eurogroup-new-bailout-deal-for-greece/5527302

2016-05-27_10-02-55https://counterinformation.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/the-eurogroup-new-bailout-deal-for-greece/

 

 

 

cp5

Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Syriza is sinking and losing popular support’: Interview in the Catalan website DIRECTA

The following is the transcript of my interview for the Catalan website DIRECTA (04/02/2016). Its title is ‘Syriza is sinking and losing popular support’.

The interview is in Catalan. A grosso modo english translation follows.

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La Directa

https://directa.cat/actualitat/stavros-mavroudeas-syriza-sesta-enfonsant-perdent-suport-popular

Stavros Mavroudeas: “Syriza s’està enfonsant i perdent el suport popular”

Coincidint amb la vaga general a Grècia publiquem una entrevista a l’economista grec Stavros Mavroudeas
Stavros Mavroudeas durant l’entrevista a Atenes
Helena Vàzquez

Stavros Mavroudeas va estudiar a la Universitat d’Atenes, va continuar els seus estudis a la SOAS-Universitat de Londres i finalment va doctorar-se a la Birkbeck College (a Anglaterra). Actualment treballa com a professor d’economia política a la Universitat de Macedònia, a Tessalònica. És autor de diversos llibres i es considera una persona activa a l’esquerra. Ha aparegut en alguns programes de televisió representant el Front Anticapitalista de l’Esquerra-Cooperació per l’Enderrocament (Antarsya), amb qui assegura simpatitzar.

La victòria de Syriza d’ara fa un any va ser un fet esperançador per a l’esquerra europea, també per l’esquerra grega?

Primer s’ha de distingir entre la gent que està organitzada i la gent que simplement pertany a l’esquerra. Per a la majoria de forces organitzades Syriza no era una esperança. Això es relaciona amb els seus orígens, que vénen de l’eurocomunisme, però també amb els coneguts lligams amb l’establishment. Per la majoria de gent que pertany a l’esquerra, en canvi, immersos en mig d’una crisi, amb pobresa, i amb un govern molt autoritari, Syriza es veu d’una altra manera.

«Syriza no és el típic partit de l’esquerra. És com una galàxia de petits grups, amb els seus propis líders que representen uns interessos particulars»

La possibilitat que alleugerés les polítiques d’austeritat i l’autoritarisme del moment es convertia en una esperança. Ara bé, en el moment en el qual Syriza trenca les seves promeses obertament i es rendeix davant la UE comença a perdre progressivament el suport de la gent comú de l’esquerra. Això en gran mesura va passar a les darreres eleccions en la que no es presentava com una força antiausteritat sinó com un mal menor davant del Pasok.

En relació al programa econòmic de Syriza, veiem que els seus posicionaments respecte a l’euro i el deute han variat. Per què?

Per tal d’entendre-ho cal veure què és Syriza. No és el típic partit de l’esquerra. És com una galàxia de petits grups, amb els seus propis líders i amb els seus lligams amb la societat, que representen uns interessos particulars. Per aquest motiu mai ha pogut tenir un programa econòmic coherent.

Va començar dient el 2012 “potser pensem en la possibilitat de desfer-nos de l’euro”, intentant seduir a l’esquerra. Per contra, a mesura que s’apropava al poder sabia que això era una línia vermella per a la burgesia grega, de manera que va oblidar la idea de trencar amb l’euro i parlava de frenar les polítiques d’austeritat dins la UE i l’eurozona. Quan va irrompre al poder va jugar la carta de negociar fortament amb la UE. Finalment va rendir-se deixant clar que no hi havia cap altra camí que el d’implementar els programes d’austeritat, el mateix que deien els governs anteriors. Per tant Syriza s’ha renovat i ha aparegut com un gerent més lleu de les polítiques d’austeritat que la troika.

«La UE no és res més que la unió dels capitals europeus dels països dominants»

Així, Syriza té una vincles molt clars amb el capital?

Claríssims. Ara és evident. Un any abans no ho era tant. La burgesia grega està dividida en diverses fraccions, ara bé, hi ha una gran divisió entra el gran capital. Per una banda, hi ha els anomenats “nous grups emergents” que creixen a finals del vuitanta i a principis del noranta sota l’administració de Costas Simits (Pasok) i després amb Nova Democràcia. Per l’altre els antics benefactors de l’administració d’Andreas Papandreou (Pasok) que es convertiren ens els perdedors amb l’ascens dels nous. Totes les fraccions del capital, al principi de forma encoberta, han donat suport a Syriza. Una vegada Syriza va ser escollida, l’altra fracció està jugant un joc de xoc-i-negociació amb Syriza també.

És Syriza l’exemple que en el capitalisme d’avui no pot estar entre dues aigües?

Sí, representa el fracàs de la idea que es pot democratitzar la Unió Europea (UE). La UE no és res més que la unió dels capitals europeus dels països dominants. Són els països de l’euro-centre els que imposen els seus propis interessos i prerrogatives a la resta, als capitals més dèbils i a la gent, evidentment.

L’economista Stavros Mavroudeas a Atenes / Helena Vàzquez

 

En un article recent al The Guardian, Costas Lapavitsas, exmembre de Syriza i ara el cervell del programa econòmic de LAE (Laiki Enotita), sembla ser bastant indulgent amb Syriza. Explica que el gran problema del partit va ser no saber desafiar l’euro.

Aquest és també el gran problema de Costas, i ho hauria d’haver sabut millor des del principi i no promoure i donar suport a Syriza com ho va fer.

Ell ho sabia?

Clar que ho sabia. Si no n’era conscient llavors s’hagués hagut de mantenir al marge. Si estigués a la seva posició, hagués donat suport Syriza i hagués contribuït a portar-la al poder llavors el mínim que podria fer és demanar perdó i oferir la meva autocrítica, una cosa que no he vist per part d’en Costas.

Parlant d’ell, en els teus treballs tu has estat molt crític amb les posicions post-keynesianes i marxo-keynesianes a l’hora de resoldre el dilema de la UE i la UEM (Unió Econòmica i Monetària).

Hi hagut un debat molt fort, vigent avui dia, dins l’espectre econòmic de l’esquerra grega. Hi ha els que, jo inclòs des d’un punt de vista marxista esgrimim que la UE no pot rectificar-se i que, per tant, considerem que l’esquerra ha treballar per tal que Grècia deixi la UE. En segon lloc, hi ha els que diuen que hem de mantenir-nos a la UE però sortir de la UEM, com en Costas. Finalment hi ha els que defensen mantenir-nos a la UE però canviar les seves polítiques d’austeritat.

Les dues últimes corrents van integrar-se dins de Syriza i les dues van fallar, fins i tot les que veien una sortida de la UEM a través d’un divorci consensuat. No es pot acordar de comú acord un divorci amb Wolfgang Schäuble! Només podrà donar-se en els seus propis i “bàrbars” termes. Crec que per l’esquerra d’avui és bastant clar, ha de batallar per una sortida completa de la UE.

Entre les dues últimes corrents que han participat a Syriza i les que no s’amaga una forma particular d’entendre la crisi?

Les dues corrents que he explicat que han participat dins de Syriza entenen la crisi com una crisi del deute. Això seria causa o bé un dèficit fiscal inviable o un dèficit comercial igualment inviable. Els dos fenòmens portarien a un dèficit per compte corrent. Aquestes serien les posicions keynesianes, post-keynesianes o Marxo-keynesianes. Per alta banda, la corrent que posposa sortir de la UE segueix una perspectiva marxista. Defensa que el deute és una conseqüència i no una causa i la crisi té unes arrels més profundes que es troben en l’esfera productiva. Aquestes qüestions són les que després es reflecteixen en les finances públiques. És a dir, els problemes de l’economia real reboten a les finances públiques i al deute extern. Per contra, les altres dues corrents diuen que no hi ha problemes en l’estructura productiva, per aquesta raó no toquen el mercat comú.

«Crec que Varoufakis és massa erràtic per ser marxista»

Darrere de com entenem el funcionament del capitalisme hi ha una forma particular d’intuir com s’ha de reorganitzar la producció per què sigui democràtica. No veig una preocupació excessiva per part de Lapavitsas a l’hora de pensar en el potencial transformador d’una sortida de l’euro.

En Costas ha abandonat realment el marxisme i s’ha traslladat al post-keynesianisme. Ha proposat el seu propi pla per salvar l’economia grega al voltant de sortir de la UEM. Aquest pla no diu res, no concreta, sobre la reestructuració de l’esfera productiva de l’economia. A més, suggereix moltes coses, fins i tot parla de socialisme. Però mai mostra com el seu pla condueix a una transició socialista. De fet, quan parla de socialisme (i poques vegades ho fa) ho veu com una cosa en el futur a molt llarg termini sense cap vincle coherent al seu pla. Però, com va dir John Maynard Keynes, en “el llarg termini tots estarem morts” …

I ara li toca a Yanis Varoufakis… es mereix l’etiqueta de marxista erràtic?

Crec que Varoufakis és massa erràtic per ser marxista.

Quin és la seva posició a Grècia?

Ell ve de Giorgos Papandreu Pasok. Va ser assessor del govern que va portar la Troika a Grècia. Per descomptat que ell ho va deixar en aquell moment i va anar a Syriza. Varoufakis és keynesià, però no d’una forma clara. Ell no té una teoria, ni tan sols una anàlisi coherent. Predica el “agnosticisme radical”, que en realitat vol dir que no necessitem una teoria; només una anàlisi conjuntural. Això el porta a dir moltes coses que es contradiuen entre sí amb molta facilitat. A Grècia ara és una cosa del passat.

Mavroudeas és professor d’economia a la Universitat de Macedònia, a Tessalònica / Helena Vàzquez

 

Però ha impulsat aquest “Pla B” a escala europea.

S’estarà movent a l’estranger però a Grècia ha perdut tota credibilitat.

Què en penses d’aquesta proposta?

Hi ha un intent per Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Stefano Fassina i Oskar Lafontaine per crear un moviment en l’àmbit europeu que aglutini als euroescèptics de l’esquerra, permetin-me dir així. Ells es mostren escèptics sobre la integració europea, però creuen que pot ser democratitzada. No entenen que la UE és una estructura reaccionària que no pot ser reformada sinó només destruïda; i aquesta és la tasca de l’esquerra.

Per acabar, perspectives a curt termini i opcions per l’esquerra?

Per ara Syriza s’està enfonsant ràpidament i està perdent el suport popular. Al mateix temps, un bloc neoliberal coherent s’està construint al voltant de Nova Democràcia. Aquest bloc pressiona la capitulada Syriza per moure-la encara més a la dreta, per tal de salvar-se la seva pell acomodant la burgesia i la UE. Això vol dir que l’espectre polític oficial s’està movent ràpidament cap a la dreta. Alhora, la societat està polaritzant ràpidament entre rics i pobres. Això porta a una enorme discrepància entre la representació política i l’estructura social. Això deixa espai per l’esquerra, la veritable esquerra. L’esquerra ha d’avançar audaçment per oferir a la gent treballadora una proposta política i “propopular”: sortir de la UE per complet i reestructurar l’economia grega per avançar cap al socialisme.

 

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Stavros Mavroudeas: ‘Syriza is sinking and losing popular support’

– The victory of Syriza, one year ago, was an encouraging fact for the European left; was it also for the Greek left?

First you must distinguish between people who are organized and people who simply belong to the left. For most organized forces Syriza was no hope. This is related to its origins, it comes from Eurocommunism and has well-known ties with the establishment. For most people who belong to the left, however, immersed in the middle of a crisis, with poverty, with a very authoritarian government, Syriza was understood in a different way.

The possibility of relieving the austerity policies and authoritarianism at that moment seemed as a hope. However, in the moment in which Syriza breaks its promises openly and capitulates in front of EU begins to gradually lose the support of ordinary people on the left. This largely happened in the last elections in which he portrayed itself not as an anti-austerity force but as a lesser evil against PASOK and ND.

 

– Regarding the economic program of Syriza, we see that it has moved its positions against the euro and debt. Why?

To understand this we must see what Syriza is. It is not the typical party of the Left. It’s like a galaxy of small groups with their leaders and their ties with enterprises, representing private interests. For this reason he has never been able to have a coherent economic program.

It began in 2012 saying «maybe we consider to get rid of the euro», trying to seduce the left. Later, as it approached to the power, it knew that this was a red line for the Greek bourgeoisie, so he forgot the idea of breaking with the euro and spoke to stopping austerity policies within the EU and the eurozone. When he reached the power it played the card of negotiating strongly with the EU. Finally surrendering making it clear that there was no other way than to implement austerity programs, the same as said by the previous governments. So SYRIZA revamped itself to the people as a milder manager of the troika austerity policies.

 

– So, Syriza has very clear links with the capital?

Clearly. This is now evident. A year earlier it was not so. The Greek bourgeoisie is divided into various factions; however, there is a great division inside the big capital. On one hand, there are the so-called «new emerging groups» that grew in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s under the administration of Simitis’ PASOK and after New Democracy. On the other hand they are the older beneficiaries of the Andreas Papandreou PASOK administrations. The latter became the losers with the rise of new ones. These old fractions of the capital have given support to Syriza, in the beginning covertly. Once Syriza was elected, the other faction is playing a game of clash-and-negotiation with Syriza as well.

 

– Syriza is the example that capitalism today can’t be in between two waters?

Yes, it represents the failure of the idea that it is possible to democratize the European Union. The European Union is nothing more than the union of European capital of dominant countries. The euro-centre countries impose their own interests and prerogatives to the others, the weaker capitals and people, of course.

 

– In a recent article in «The Guardian» Costas Lapavitsas, a former member of Syriza’s and now having a role in the economic program LAE (Laiki Enotita), seems to be pretty indulgent with Syriza. He explains that the big problem was that didn’t know how to challenge the euro.

This is also the big problem with Costas. He should have known better from the beginning and not to promote and support Syriza as he did.

 

– He knew it?

Of course he knew it. If he was not aware of that then he should have stayed aside. If I were in his position, if I had helped the political fraud that is Syriza to gain power then, the least I could do would be to apologize and offer my self-critique, something that I haven’t seen by Costas.

 

– Speaking of him, in your work you’ve been very critical of the Keynesian and post-Keynesian proposals about solving the problems of the EU and EMU.

There was a strong debate, and it still remains today, within the spectrum of the economists of the Greek left. Firstly, there are those (me included) who, from a Marxist point of view, argue that the EU cannot be rectified and therefore the left should propose that Greece leaves the EU. Secondly, there are those who say that we must remain in the EU but leave the EMU, (as Costas). Finally there are those who argue to remain in the EU but to change its austerity policies. The last two currents joined in Syriza and both failed; even those that proposed an exit from the EMU through a consensual divorce. It is impossible to get a decent agreement of a divorce from Schauble! This can only occur in his own barbaric terms. I think that the role of the left today is quite clear: the left should fight for a complete disengagement from the EU.

 

– In between the last two trends that have participated in Syriza and those who didn’t there was a particular way of understanding the crisis?

The two currents that participated in Syriza understood the crisis as simply a crisis of debt. This was caused by either an unviable fiscal deficit or and equally unviable trade deficit. Both led to a current account deficit. Their analyses followed Keynesian, post-Keynesian or Marxo-Keynesian perspectives. On the other hand, the current that proposed leaving the EU follows the Marxist perspective. It argues that debt is a consequence and not a cause and that the crisis has deeper causes that lay in the productive sphere. These causes are then reflected in the public finances. That is, the problems of the real economy determine public finances and external debt. By contrast, the other two currents say that there are no problems in the Greek productive structure; therefore they do not touch the European Common Market.

 

– Last of how we understand the workings of capitalism there a particular way to intuit how to reorganize production to make it democratic. I do not see an excessive concern on the part of Lapavitsas when thinking about the transformative potential of an exit of the euro.

Costas has actually abandoned Marxism and moved towards post-Keynesianism. He has proposed his own plan to save the Greek economy constracted around leaving the EMU. This plan does not say anything serious or concrete about the restructuring of the productive sphere of the economy. Furthermore, he suggests many things, he even speaks about socialism. But he never shows how his plan leads to a socialist transition. In fact, when he speaks about socialism (and he rarely does so) he sees it as something in the very long-term future without any coherent link to his plan. But, as John Maynard Keynes said, in «the long term we are all dead»…

 

– And now it is the turn of Yanis Varoufakis ..Does he deserve the self-given label of an erratic Marxist?

I think Varoufakis is too erratic to be Marxist.

 

– What is his position in Greece?

He comes from Giorgos Papandreou PASOK. He was an advisor to the government that brought the Troika in Greece. Of course he left it at that time and went to Syriza. Varoufakis is Keynesian but not in clear way. He doesn’t have a theory, not even a coherent analysis. He preaches ‘radical agnosticism’ which actually means that we do not need a theory; just a conjunctural analysis. This leads him to say many things that contradict each other very easily. In Greece now he is a thing of the past.

 

– But he has promoted ‘Plan B’ in Europe.

He can be moving around abroad but in Greece he has lost all credibility.

 

– What do you think of this proposal?

There is an attempt by Jean-Luc Mélenchon [co-founder of Partie Gauche (left)], Stefano Fassina [future leader of Sinistra (Future left)], and Oskar Lafontaine [ founder of Die Linke (the left)], to create a movement in a European level that gathers the Eurosceptics on the left, let me say it like this. They are skeptical about European integration but think that it can be democratized. They do not understand that the EU is a reactionary structure that can’t be reformed but only destroyed; and this is the task of the left.

 

– Finally, what are the prospects in a short-term and which are the options for the left?

For now Syriza is crumbling rapidly; losing popular support. At the same time a coherent neoliberal bloc is being built around New Democracy. This bloc presses the capitulated Syriza to move even further to the right (in order to save its skin by accommodating with the bourgeoisie and the EU). This means that the official political spectrum is moving rapidly to the right. At the same time the society is rapidly polarizing between the rich and the poor. This leads to a huge discrepancy between political representation and social structure. This leaves room for the left, the true left. The left must venture boldly to offer to the working people a realistic pro-popular political proposal: leaving the EU completely and moving to restructure the Greek economy as a pre-condition for socialist transition.


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CounterPunch: perchè Syriza sta colando a picco in Grecia

Counterpunch riporta l’intervista del sito catalano Directa a Stavros Mavroudeas, professore di economia politica all’università della Macedonia, sullo stato della politica e del dibattito economico greco. La radicalità del professore marxista fa da controcanto agli scontri della settimana scorsa e alla crescente instabilità del paese ellenico.

di Stavros Mavroudeas, 09-02-2016

D. La vittoria di Syriza, un anno fa, è stato un fatto incoraggiante per la sinistra europea; lo è stato anche per la sinistra greca?

Mavroudeas: In primo luogo dobbiamo distinguere tra persone riunite in un’organizzazione e persone che semplicemente si sentono parte della sinistra. Per le forze più organizzate Syriza in nessun modo era una speranza. Questo per via della sua origine, Syriza nasce dall’Eurocomunismo e ha legami ben noti con la classe dirigente. Ma dalla maggior parte delle persone che appartengono alla sinistra, tuttavia, immerse nel bel mezzo di una crisi, con la povertà e un governo molto autoritario, Syriza è stata recepita in modo diverso.

In quel momento la possibilità di alleviare le politiche di austerità e l’autoritarismo sembravano una speranza. Tuttavia, nel momento in cui Syriza rompe apertamente le proprie promesse e capitola davanti alla UE, inizia a perdere gradualmente il sostegno della gente comune di sinistra. Questo è ciò che è in gran parte accaduto nelle ultime elezioni, in cui Syriza si è presentata non come una forza anti-austerità, ma come un male minore contro PASOK e ND.

D. Per quanto riguarda il programma economico di Syriza, vediamo che ha cambiato le sue posizioni nei confronti dell’euro e del debito. Perché?

Mavroudeas: Per comprenderlo dobbiamo vedere cos’è Syriza. Non è il tipico partito della sinistra. E’ una galassia di piccoli gruppi con i loro leader e i loro legami con le imprese, che rappresentano interessi privati. Per questo motivo non è mai stata in grado di avere un programma economico coerente.

Ha cominciato nel 2012 dichiarando che «possiamo ritenere opportuno sbarazzarci dell’euro», cercando di sedurre la sinistra. Più tardi, mentre si avvicinava al potere, sapeva che questa era una linea rossa per la borghesia greca, così ha abbandonato l’idea di rompere con l’euro e ha sostenuto di voler fermare le politiche di austerità all’interno dell’UE e della zona euro. Quando ha raggiunto il potere ha giocato la carta della negoziazione di forza con l’UE. Alla fine ha ceduto mettendo in chiaro che l’unica via era implementare i programmi di austerità, la stessa cosa che sostenevano i governi precedenti. Così Syriza si è rilanciata come mite responsabile delle politiche di austerità della troika.

D. Quindi, Syriza ha collegamenti molto espliciti con il capitale?

Mavroudeas: Chiaramente. Adesso è evidente. Un anno fa non era così. La borghesia greca è divisa in varie fazioni; tuttavia, c’è una grande divisione all’interno del grande capitale. Da un lato, ci sono i cosiddetti «nuovi gruppi emergenti» che sono cresciuti alla fine degli anni ’80 e all’inizio degli anni ’90 sotto l’amministrazione PASOK di Simitis e dopo Nuova Democrazia. Dall’altra parte ci sono i più anziani beneficiari delle amministrazioni PASOK di Andreas Papandreou. Questi ultimi sono diventati i perdenti con l’ascesa dei nuovi. Queste vecchie frazioni del capitale hanno dato sostegno a Syriza, all’inizio di nascosto. Una volta che Syriza è stata eletta, anche l’altra fazione ha iniziato a giocare una partita scontro-e-negoziazione con Syriza.

D. Syriza è l’esempio che il capitalismo oggi può avere un solo vincitore?

Mavroudeas: Sì, rappresenta il fallimento dell’idea che sia possibile democratizzare l’Unione Europea. L’Unione Europea non è altro che l’unione del capitale dei paesi europei dominanti. I paesi del centro impongono i propri interessi e prerogative agli altri, capitali e popoli più deboli, naturalmente.

D. In un recente articolo su «The Guardian», Costas Lapavitsas, un ex membro di Syriza che adesso ha un ruolo nel programma economico del LAE (Laiki Enotita) [Unione Popolare, in italiano, ndT], sembra essere abbastanza indulgente con Syriza. Egli dice che il grande problema era che non si sapeva come uscire dall’euro.

Mavroudeas: Questo è il grosso problema anche con Costas. Egli fin dall’inizio non avrebbe dovuto essere così ingenuo da promuovere e sostenere Syriza come ha fatto.

D. Lo sapeva?

Mavroudeas: Certo che lo sapeva. Se non ne era a conoscenza avrebbe dovuto restare in disparte. Se fossi al suo posto, se avessi aiutato la truffa politica che è Syriza a raggiungere il potere, allora il minimo che potrei fare sarebbe quello di chiedere scusa e fare autocritica, cosa che non ho visto fare da Costas.

D. A proposito di lui, nel tuo lavoro sei stato molto critico nei confronti delle proposte keynesiane e post-keynesiane per risolvere i problemi della UE e dell’UEM.

Mavroudeas: C’è stato un dibattito forte, e continua ancora oggi, all’interno dello spettro degli economisti della sinistra greca. In primo luogo, ci sono quelli (me compreso) che, da un punto di vista marxista, sostengono che l’UE non può essere corretta e quindi la sinistra dovrebbe proporre che la Grecia esca dall’Unione europea. In secondo luogo, ci sono quelli che dicono che dobbiamo rimanere nell’UE, ma lasciare l’eurozona (come Costas). Infine ci sono quelli che sostengono di rimanere nell’UE, ma cambiando le sue politiche di austerità. Le ultime due correnti erano unite in Syriza ed hanno entrambi fallito; anche quelli che hanno proposto l’uscita dall’unione monetaria attraverso un divorzio consensuale. E’ impossibile ottenere un accordo decente di divorzio da Schauble! Ciò può avvenire solo ai suoi barbari termini. Credo che il ruolo della sinistra oggi sia piuttosto chiaro: la sinistra dovrebbe lottare per un disimpegno totale dall’UE.

D. C’era un particolare modo di intendere la crisi tra le due tendenze che partecipavano a Syriza e quelli che non partecipavano?

Mavroudeas: Le due correnti che hanno partecipato a Syriza hanno inteso la crisi semplicemente come una crisi del debito. Ciò è stato causato da un deficit fiscale impraticabile o da un deficit commerciale altrettanto impraticabile. Entrambi i deficit hanno portato ad un disavanzo delle partite correnti. Le loro analisi hanno seguito una prospettiva keynesiana, post-keynesiana o marxista-keynesiana. D’altra parte, la corrente che ha proposto di lasciare l’UE segue la prospettiva marxista. Essa sostiene che il debito è una conseguenza e non una causa e che la crisi ha cause più profonde che si trovano nella sfera produttiva. Queste cause sono poi riflesse nei conti pubblici. Cioè, i problemi dell’economia reale determinano le finanze pubbliche e il debito estero. Per contro, le altre due correnti sostengono che non ci sono problemi nella struttura produttiva greca; quindi non giungono a toccare il Mercato Comune Europeo.

D. Gli ultimi di quelli che sostengono che capito il funzionamento del capitalismo c’è un modo particolare di intuire come riorganizzare la produzione per renderlo democratico. Non vedo una preoccupazione eccessiva da parte di Lapavitsas quando si pensa al potenziale di trasformazione di una uscita dell’euro.

Mavroudeas: Costas effettivamente ha abbandonato il marxismo ed è andato verso il post-keynesismo. Ha proposto il suo piano per salvare l’economia greca costruito intorno all’uscita dall’UEM. Questo piano non dice nulla di importante o concreto sulla ristrutturazione della sfera produttiva dell’economia. Inoltre, egli suggerisce molte cose, parla anche di socialismo. Ma non mostra mai come il suo piano porti ad una transizione socialista. In realtà, quando parla di socialismo (e raramente lo fa), lo vede come qualcosa nel futuro, a lungo termine, senza alcun collegamento coerente col suo piano. Ma, come diceva John Maynard Keynes, «nel lungo periodo saremo tutti morti» …

D. E ora è la volta di Yanis Varoufakis ..merita l’etichetta che si è dato da solo, di marxista imprevedibile?

Mavroudeas: penso che Varoufakis sia troppo imprevedibile per essere marxista.

D. Qual è la sua posizione in Grecia?

Mavroudeas: Viene dal PASOK di Giorgos Papandreou. E’ stato consulente del governo che ha portato la Troika in Grecia. Naturalmente ha lasciato la posizione in quel periodo ed è andato con Syriza. Varoufakis è keynesiano, ma in modo non chiaro. Non ha una teoria, nemmeno un’analisi coerente. Predica un ‘agnosticismo radicale’ che significa in realtà che non abbiamo bisogno di una teoria; solo di un’analisi congiunturale. Questo lo porta a dire molte cose che si contraddicono a vicenda molto facilmente. In Grecia ora è una cosa del passato.

D. Ma ha promosso ‘Piano B’ in Europa.

Mavroudeas: egli può viaggiare in continuazione all’estero, ma in Grecia ha perso ogni credibilità.

D. Cosa pensa di questa proposta?

Mavroudeas: C’è un tentativo da parte di Jean-Luc Mélenchon [co-fondatore di Partie Gauche (sinistra)], Stefano Fassina [futuro leader di Sinistra Italiana (sinistra)], e Oskar Lafontaine [fondatore di Die Linke (sinistra)] di creare un movimento a livello europeo che raccoglie gli euroscettici di sinistra, mi permetta di dirlo a questo modo. Sono scettici circa l’integrazione europea, ma ritengono che possa essere democratizzata. Non capiscono che l’UE è una struttura reazionaria che non può essere riformata ma solo distrutta; e questo è il compito della sinistra.

D. Infine, quali sono le prospettive a breve termine e quali sono le opzioni per la sinistra?

Mavroudeas: Per ora Syriza si sta sgretolando rapidamente; sta perdendo il sostegno popolare. Allo stesso tempo, è stato costruito un blocco neoliberista coerente attorno a Nuova Democrazia. Questo blocco preme Syriza, ormai arresa, perchè si sposti ancora più a destra (per salvarsi la pelle soddisfacendo la borghesia e l’UE). Ciò significa che lo spettro politico ufficiale si sta muovendo rapidamente verso destra. Allo stesso tempo, la società si sta rapidamente polarizzando tra ricchi e poveri. Questo porta ad una enorme discrepanza tra la rappresentanza politica e la struttura sociale. Ciò lascia spazio alla sinistra, alla vera sinistra. La sinistra deve osare coraggiosamente per offrire ai lavoratori una realistica proposta politica pro-popolare: lasciare del tutto l’UE e andare verso la ristrutturazione dell’economia greca come pre-condizione per la transizione socialista.

 

SYRIZA votes for a disastrous new EU austerity program – A new popular political front against the EU is required

The following is the extended transcript of the interview I gave today to the News program of the Press TV.

Press TV

http://www.presstv.ir/Default/Live

 

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SYRIZA votes for a disastrous new EU austerity program

A new popular political front against the EU is required

 

The new austerity program that was proposed yesterday (13/8/2015) by the SYRIZA government and voted by the majority of SYRIZA and the discredited old pro-austerity and pro-EU (European Union) parties brings disaster for the Greek people. Economic depression will be aggravated, foreign debt will be increased, wages and pensions reduced even more, poverty exacerbated and Greece’s subservience to EU’s imperialism heightened.

The SYRIZA government has followed the course of the previous New Democracy (ND) government. It has been elected on an anti-austerity electoral platform. Once elected, it pretended that it negotiated forcefully with the EU for a remaking of the austerity restructuring program for Greece. However, soon it capitulated to EU and became another puppet government.

This political betrayal produced a schism in SYRIZA with its Left wing rejecting the new austerity program and ready to break out from the party. However, till now SYRIZA’s Left wing has adopted a hermaphrodite political position: it rejects the austerity program but supports the SYRIZA government that pushes it forward. This is an untenable position. SYRIZA’s Left wing has to decide: either it will remain within the party and try to rectify it (which is obviously infeasible) or it breaks out and creates a new political front. It would be foolish if it tries the second option on each own. The SYRIZA’s Left wing has neither the organizational capabilities nor the political clout for this. If it had both (or either of them) it would not have participated in SYRIZA (whose treacherous course was predictable). A new popular political front can only be created if it unite the significant Left and popular forces that exist outside SYRIZA and have a significant presence in popular movements. A new political front must also have a clear program. It has to confront the EU and openly adhere Greece’s secession from this exploitative imperialist organization. Any hesitation regarding this is self-defeating. Unfortunately, SYRIZA’s Left wing till now has not made any clear move in these two crucial aspects. If it fails to do so then its demise is on the cards.

SYRIZA’s capitulation to the EU and the tough austerity measures of the new program (and their prerequisite actions) have already started biting people’s incomes and eroding SYRIZA’s electoral support. This is leading to an ‘Argntinian situation’. In Argentina neoliberal Peronist Menem government was voted out because of it austerity measures dictated by its dollarization policy (i.e. relinquishing monetary independency). A series of governments followed that all were nominally anti-neoliberal and anti-imperialist. However, none of them ventured to cross the system’s ‘red line’: dollarization. The result was that all of them, in practice, followed Menem’s economic policies and for this reason they were forced out by popular revolt. Similarly, SYRIZA does not question the Greek systemic ‘red line’: the participation to the EU. This participation may bring profits to the Greek oligarchy but it is the ‘mother of almost all evils’ for the Greek pople. For this reason SYRIZA will also, sooner or later, face popular anger.

Currently, SYRIZA is trying to negotiate with the EU imperialist their permission to hold snap elections. It calculates that, before the new austerity measures destroy people’s incomes, a snap election will give SYRIZA enough electoral support to remain in government. However, the EU imperialists are hesitant as even a snap election will have an injurious economic impact. Moreover, they prefer a coalition between SYRIZA and the old pro-austerity and pro-EU parties.

In all cases people’s anger is boiling and the mainstream political parties (SYRIZA included) that are subservient to the EU and the Greek oligarchy are losing support. The times are calling for a change. The necessity for a new popular political front that will confront the EU and lead Greece’s secession from it is obvious.

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SYRIZA is trying to limit popular discontent against its capitulation to EU and relaxes capital controls in banking

SYRIZA is trying to limit popular discontent against its capitulation to EU and relaxes capital controls in banking

 

Stavros Mavroudeas

 

diagram

On Sunday (19-7-2015) the SYRIZA-ANEL government announced that the ‘banking holiday’ imposed 21 days ago will be lifted and banks will re-open. Also, there will be a relaxation of the stringent capital controls imposed (see http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/07/19/420892/Greece-banks-shutdown-debt-crisis).

This is an economic and political damage limitation move.

First, capital controls were in fact imposed on Greece by the ECB as it curtailed its provision of liquidity to Greek banks. ECB did so, in close co-operation with the EU, in order to coerce SYRIZA to accept the troika (EU-ECB-IMF) austerity program and implement it unconditionally.

Second, capital controls caused serious economic and political problems. The already gravely wounded by the troika austerity program Greek economy took a severe hit because of the additional problems in financing its activities. It is estimated that ECB’s curtailing of liquidity cost more than 3bn euros. In political terms the climax from a limited liquidity to fully blown capital controls signified a blatant imperialist intervention by the EU in the affairs of Greece. The ECB, as the long arm of the troika, obliged the foolish and wavering SYRIZA government to impose the unpopular capital controls the very week before the crucial referendum of the 5th of July. With this move it tried to blackmail the Greek people and coerce them to vote for YES (that is for capitulating to the insolent demands of the EU). However, this blackmail backfired as the mass of working people and lower middle strata – that constitute the vast majority of the Greek population – voted for NO. However, the very next day of this resounding referendum result, SYRIZA betrayed it, realigned itself with the pro-EU and pro-business opposition parties and proceeded to agree to a third 3-year troika austerity program (https://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/2856/). This causes a growing rift between SYRIZA (who is becoming another EU-subservient austerity government) and the vast popular majority.

Third, in order to ameliorate these problems, SYRIZA – working in tandem this time with the EU – relaxes capital controls. As it faces popular discontent it tries, first, to realign itself with the business interests hit by the restriction of finance and, second, to placate the common people whose everyday lives have been disrupted by the freezing of their mediocre deposits.

The outcome of this damage limitation move is dubious. With the 3rd austerity program the Greek economy is led into further recession and the working people and the middle strata will pay the costs. With or without capital controls popular support for SYRIZA is withering away.

 

* Stavros Mavroudeas is a Professor of Political Economy in the Economics Department of the University of Macedonia.

e-mail: smavro@uom.edu.gr

web: https://stavrosmavroudeas.wordpress.com

Published in COUNTERPUNCH

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/20/syriza-tries-to-limit-popular-discontent-against-its-capitulation-to-eu-and-relaxes-capital-controls-in-banking/

 

An intervention in today’s (19-7-2015) TV Press site about the economic and political consequences of the capital controls and SYRIZA’s betrayal of the popular will

Pensioners wait for the opening of the National Bank of Greece in central Athens, July 16, 2015. (© AP) Greeks face cash withdrawal limits.

Pensioners wait for the opening of the National Bank of Greece in central Athens, July 16, 2015. (© AP) Greeks face cash withdrawal limits.

Greek banks are scheduled to reopen on Monday following a three-week shutdown as the country struggles with a debt and finance crisis.

The Greek government, in a decree issued on Saturday, kept the daily cash withdrawal limit at 60 euros (65 dollars) but added a weekly limit, meaning that a depositor who does not withdraw cash on a certain day can take out 120 euros (130 dollars) the next day, and so on, up to 420 euros (455 dollars) a week.

Moreover, bank customers will still not be able to cash checks, and only have to deposit them into their accounts. There would also be a block on capital transfers abroad with their credit or cash cards, as well as restrictions on opening new accounts or activating dormant ones.

Greece decided to close banks on June 29 to prevent a bank run or cash transfers abroad.

The forced three-week closure has reportedly cost the country’s embattled economy almost 3.0 billion euros (3.3 billion dollars).

Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos (L) administers the secular oath to the new members of the government during a swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Athens, Greece, July 18, 2015. (© AP)

 

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras earlier reshuffled his cabinet to remove those members who were opposed to a new loan approved for the country.

Fresh-faced government-friendly cabinet members were sworn in on Saturday.

Over 30 lawmakers out of the 149 ones from the ruling Syriza Party disapproved austerity measures demanded by creditors in a recent vote in the parliament.

Greece’s former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who resigned amid mounting pressure on him by the government over his disapproval of the austerity measures, has cast doubt on the government’s ability to employ the unpopular fiscal reforms.

A smashed ATM machine is seen next to the entrance of a bank office in central Athens, Greece, on July 16, 2015 following clashes during an anti-austerity protest the night before. (© AFP)

 

In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Sunday, Stavros Mavroudeas, a professor of political economy at the University of Macedonia in Greece, said, “Capital controls on Greece have created serious economic and political problems. Economic losses are estimated at more than 3 billion euros for the Greek economy.”

Mavroudeas added, “The political problems are even more severe. The EU imposed capital controls on Greek banking sector in a blatant imperialist intervention… It obliged Greece to adopt capital controls in order to quest the Greek electorate to vote for ‘Yes’ in the last referendum. That is to vote for submitting fro capitulating to the demands of the EU.”

“The political blackmail backfired as the vast majority of the people voted for ‘No’ in the referendum. However, immediately afterwards, Syriza reneged on the referendum, and accepted a third troika austerity program,” he pointed out.

On Friday, the European Union (EU) formally approved a short-term loan of 7.16 billion euros (7.77 billion US dollars) to debt-wracked Greece as Athens and its creditors are working to reach an agreement on a new bailout package.

Greece received two bailouts worth a total of 240 billion euros (272 billion dollars) in 2010 and 2012 from its troika of international lenders – the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank – following the 2009 economic crisis.

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